Somen + Mint Salad with Ponzu Dressing
This Somen and Mint Salad with Ponzu Dressing is packed with silky somen noodles and lots of fresh crunch from the carrots and cucumbers. The Ponzu dressing is so easy to throw together, and along with the fresh mint, gives this noodle salad the perfect Springy edge.
Something about Spring makes me want ALL THE SALAD. And this salad meets all of my sunshine and blue skies cravings. It has a short ingredient list, is quick, easy, bright, fresh, crunchy, and the noodles have just the right amount of slip. Because slippery noodles are so satisfying, am I right?
Did I tell you this recipe is super quick to make? How does under 10 minutes sound?
… yeah, I thought that’d get your attention.
Because who wants to be stuck indoors when you can be outside, enjoying the glorious sunshine? I’m only willing to be indoors long enough to make some good food. That I can eat outside. Who’s with me?
The key to this recipe is using either a mandoline slicer fitted with a julienne blade or a spiralizer. (I used a mandoline in these photos) Whichever tool you use makes super quick work of the these vegetables, and the noodle-shape is ideal to go along with the super skinny somen noodles.
And on that note, the second key to this quick recipe is the noodles themselves. Somen is a Japanese wheat noodle that is ultra thin, and most often served chilled. They’re smooth and silky, and because they’re so thin, they cook ultra-fast. 2~3 minutes, tops. This is my favorite brand that I always keep stocked in my pantry.
And the last key is the sauce. Ponzu is a soy sauce and citrus based sauce often used with fish or meat in Japan. Traditional ponzu is made with yuzu or kabosu, both beautifully vibrant-flavored citrus fruits found in Japan. Unfortunately, both are hard to find in the US, so we’re opting for the classic lime. Limes have a similar pleasant bitterness and bright tartness that are reminiscent of yuzu and kabosu, though each particular fruit does have it’s own nuances that can’t be mimicked. And it’s also made with chilled dashi. And as far as stocks and broths go, dashi is relatively quick to make, so I recommend going through the extra step and adding ice cubes to chill it quickly. But if you don’t have the time, water works just fine for this, truly. We’ll only be using a tiny little bit, so even if the dashi does provide an extra depth of flavor, it isn’t completely necessary.
Lastly, the title of this recipe, and the star of the show, fresh mint.
I’m currently obsessed with it. It’s funny, I first tried this recipe with my usual workhorse herb, cilantro, and I kept thinking it needed a different herby punch. And I had that lightbulb moment: mint! I hollered at my kids to get their shoes on and we ran out the door to the closest grocery store and bought a pack of mint, rushed home, and the rest is history, I suppose. It was the perfect match. I hope you think so, too.
- 8~10 ounces (depending on the package you buy) somen noodles
- 2 large carrots
- 1 large or 3~4 small thin-skinned cucumber, such as Armenia or Japanese or baby
- 1~2 bunches of mint leaves, torn into medium pieces
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chilled dashi or water
- Cook somen noodles according to package directions. Immediately after cooking, rinse thoroughly under cold water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, either using a mandoline slicer fitter with a julienne blade or a spiralizer with a spaghetti (for cucumber) or angel hair (for carrots) blade, cut the carrots and cucumber. Place in the bowl and add the chilled, drained noodles. Sprinkle with torn mint leaves.
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, lime, and dashi (or water). Pour over the noodles and vegetables and toss to coat. Serve immediately.*
- * This dish will last in the fridge or even at room temperature for a while (perfect picnic food!), but the cucumbers will eventually wilt, so it's best eaten the day it's made.